‘Weather Diaries’ is one to keep.
Label: Wichita Recordings
Released: 16th June 2017
After Lush’s lap of honour brought an EP, and Slowdive’s return a close to career-best album, despite the 22-year gap, the prospect of new material from the other big shoegaze reunion was an enticing one. And there was the news that electro DJ and producer Erol Alkan would be behind the desk, with previous producer Alan Moulder returning to mix the album: one foot in Ride’s past, the other firmly in the now.
But which Ride would we get? Would this blank out the memory of their descent into classic-rock apery and The Beady Eye Years? First single ‘Charm Assault’ was a big ’yes’, all punchy wah-wah and moody jangle -invigorating and insistent, pointing at the power-poppiest bits of ‘Going Blank Again’. Then ‘Home is a Feeling’ followed, a blissed-out, comfortingly aimless swirl suggesting the band’s shimmeriest, floppy-fringiest best.
And ‘Weather Diaries’ continues to shuffle the elements, but there are twists – it’s not one long nostalgic hard-stare at the DMs. There are layers of synths and sampled noise all around, while ‘All I Want’ couples Steve Queralt’s fuzzy bass with rhythmic chopped-up vocals; it’s hypnotic, and tinged with their classic sound, but Mark Gardener’s vocal drips with desperation at the state we’re in (“It’s not a pretty picture/This is 1932/All I want is to leave this time”).
‘Charm Assault’ has a similar line of attack (“Your charm assault has scarred the world/it looks so ugly as your lies begin to unfurl”), while ‘Lateral Alice’’s literary thrash reminds us how hard it can be to talk about the most obvious realities surrounding us (“This is water, remember”, alluding to David Foster Wallace’s essay on living a compassionate life).
And when they do business-as-usual – the widescreen, moodily chiming ‘Lannoy Point’, the title-track’s gathering storm, erupting in washes of noise that echo ‘Dreams Burn Down’, or the gorgeous closing pairing of ‘Impermanence’ and the lapping soundwaves of ‘White Sands’ – wistful, both regretting the time Andy Bell and Gardener spent apart while celebrating their return – it’s as though Ride never went away. Whether it’s the beginning of a new phase, or the final word we all deserved, ‘Weather Diaries’ is one to keep. Rob Mesure